Weekly Overview: French Poultry Industry Faces up to Challenges

FRANCE - The poultry industry is showing signs of struggling following the withdrawal of export refunds on EU poultry meat, from which French poultry companies in particular benefited. However, the government is offering funds for investment in processing facilities and the industry's own organisation is launching a new campaign to promote the health benefits of eating meat.
calendar icon 1 August 2013
clock icon 4 minute read

The European meat sector has been hitting back against recent bad publicity and campaigns from groups promoting meat-free consumption and farming.

Following a successful campaign in the UK, where one campaigning group was forced to change an advertisement owing to a misleading message, French meat industry organisation, SNIV-SNCP, has gone on the offensive.

It is saying that, for health reasons, consumers should be eating meat at least once a day.

The organisation representing meat companies in France says that it is well known that consumers should eat three dairy products and five vegetable or fruit products a day. Now it says there should be a similar benchmark for meat.

SNIV-SNCP says it advocates “meat every day” because the NFHP (the French National Plan for Health and Nutrition) recommends eating animal protein, meat, eggs or fish “once or twice a day” and to have meat once a day is within this recommendation.

It adds that the proposal to eat meat once a day would help to alleviate the deficiencies highlighted by the latest INCA 2 study that shows that meat consumption has fallen by 20 per cent in children, 17 per cent in adolescents and 16 per cent among women.

It also says that if people are eating five fruit or vegetables a day, they need the protein to develop a balanced diet.

And the organisation finally says that it is the best way to fight against the “meatless day” campaign promoted by anti-meat activists.

The SNIV-SNCP campaign addresses the health and nutrition issues for which meat consumption has so long been under fire.

Also in France, the end of EU support for exported poultry meat is hitting the national industry hard, according to a new USDA report. These refunds had been going almost exclusively to two French exporters of frozen broilers.

Unsurprisingly, the decision has been strongly criticised in France. While eliminating the export refunds will not stop all French poultry exports to the Middle East, is likely to further weaken the industry, which has already been experiencing financial difficulties.

According to the report, France was almost the only EU exporter of frozen whole chicken to affected destinations, and these exports represent about 30 per cent of the national chicken production.

Possibly in a move to compensate for the end to the refunds, the French government is offering funding worth up to €250,000 to poultry plants to invest in processing lines.

The level of subsidy is dependent on factors that include the size of the business and its location. Only combined killing and cutting plants qualify: farm-based slaughtering is specifically excluded, as are processing facilities without slaughtering lines.

The programme is being overseen by FranceAgriMer, which is currently home to a national ad-hoc subsidy commission. This particular scheme had been under discussion with the poultry industry for some time. Eligible projects include automation and robotics.

However, paying off the investment loans could be challenging in the current general economic climate and a following a period of high poultry feed costs.

And finally, looking to the global industry, more than 85 tonnes of chicken has been recalled by the Ministry of Health in Chile due to concerns over dioxin contamination, leading some countries to ban Chilean poultry product imports.

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